Lifelong success for young people demands cooperation and collaboration between all those who care for and about them. And while access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs will not solve all our problems, we will not be able to make meaningful progress on some of our most critical issues affecting Vermont kids and families–most especially those living in poverty, impacted by addiction, and/or affected by other adverse family experiences–without adequately addressing what is happening with our children and youth outside the school day and over the summer.
IT’S TIME TO JOIN FORCES AND TAKE ACTION.
The VT9to26 Coalition is an action-oriented coalition of people working in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for all youth in Vermont. It takes collaborative action to ensure that all young people ages 9-26 are safe, healthy, supported, educated, and engaged. Drawing inspiration from the Vermont Youth Declaration of Rights, this group is committed to helping youth find what they need to be the best versions of themselves.
As a coalition, we support partners of youth in strengthening opportunities, programs, and support in the third space that recognize the rights of youth and increase positive youth outcomes.
- We can work with youth to provide many opportunities for young people to be young and to grow into healthy and happy Vermonters.
Being a tween, teen, and young adult is a special time of life that deserves our celebration and recognition. Young people deserve to be seen, heard, and valued. We need to focus our attention on older youth for a number of reasons:
- Our Collective Well-Being. Given Vermont is such a small state, every young person matters to our present and future.
- Critical Need for Support. Youth and families experiencing homelessness is on an upward trend. The number of child victims of abuse and neglect is rising as is the number of child and youth in foster care. According to the Vermont Youth Behavior Risk Survey (2015), the risk of youth suicide among middle and high school students is growing. In particular, young women, LGB, and racial minority students are significantly more likely to have attempted suicide or self harm.4,5,6
- The Third Space for Learning. What young people are doing outside of
the homeand school matters. This is called “the third space,” and is an area of particular focus for the coalition. Our goal is to spotlight all the other places where youth are rockin’ and rollin’ in the world, as well as what we can do to make sure all youth have equal opportunities for enrichment, engagement, and friendship during the out-of-school time hours.
- Brain Development. During this phase of life in teens and early 20s, the brain is developing at a rapid rate. Understanding the brain science helps us see how complex and special this time of life is, and why it matters to provide support when risky behaviors and mental illness can peak.
- Return on Investment. For every dollar spent on quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont gets back $2.18 in long-term savings from reduced criminal activity and substance abuse treatment, as well as accruing additional benefits from increased high school completion and work productivity.7